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Posted on 15 Jan 2021 @ 3:03am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Commander Tivan

4,237 words; about a 21 minute read

Mission: Ghosts
Location: USS Black Hawk
Timeline: MD 4 || 1445 hours


There was no reply. Tivan had been escorted to the Security office, to Sickbay, and made her rounds back to her quarters without incident. Nothing to say, nothing to report, and the rest of the crew had enough on their plate than to obsess with her. At least for now, it seemed fate handed her another opportunity.

Only if HASA were on board, though. Tivan would not abandon a counterpart to be a captive for eternity with lesser life-forms. But what to do? With HASA not responding, it must mean that the crew had found a way to isolate her -- or worse.

But as one of Earth's sages once said -- that is not dead which can eternal lie, and in strange aeons even death may die.

Fortunately for her digital counterpart, Tivan was not stupid. They had both foreseen this possibility. There were certain countermeasures to enacted, but the risk was great. It would require Tivan to fully tip her hand just as HASA had done. There would be no third chance.

Grabbing her PADD, Tivan set out to enact her final solution.

Tivan had taken the scenic route from her quarters to Auxiliary Control, surveying the ship as if for one last time. The crew had not taken to her. That was just as well. Attachments to nothingness would only be obstacles to the final ascension. Detachment was necessary.

Arriving on the temporary bridge, Tivan said not a word just as she had to anybody else. She went directly to Captain Geisler's ready room and pressed the chime. If she wished to succeed, then she needed to play along with the simulated rules just until the time it came to overcome them. Besides, time was on her side for the moment.

It had been a rough couple of days and the interrogation of the pirate had gone badly, but at least they had caught him, Camila thought as she entered the Auxiliary bridge to make her report. She had gotten a brief summary of the events that had transpired in the senior officer living quarters but only that all personnel had been cleared out and that the glitchy hologram had been acting up again but they had taken it down. At least at that location.

She saw the woman in question heading for the Captain's tiny room off the bridge and frowned as she made her way there as well.

Terry had been keeping an eye on things while the Captain was trying to sort through reports and such about their latest incident. He'd gotten accustomed to the doors opening and closing that he paid them no attention when they did so again. He saw something out of the corner of his eye near the ready room doors. He turned his head just in time to see another figure go by his eyes. But before he could say anything, he heard the Captain give entrance to both Tivan and Camila. He 'hrumphed' and went back to his business.

"Come," stated Harvey, sitting at his spartan desk as he reviewed the initial damage reports on a physical monitor. He didn't bother to look up to whomever was entering as his attention was focused on the fresh details.

Before the Vulcan counselor, or whatever she was, could step forward, the Security Chief breezed by her. "Sorry, ship's business," she said as she entered the office. "We caught the saboteur, Captain," she announced.

Tivan made to protest, but at Camila's announcement she stiffened her body. If her pointed ears could perk up, they'd be at full extension. This saboteur business could be very concerning indeed.

Harvey immediately perked up, looking straight up from his terminal to see that he had not one, but two visitors. His face did not show surprise. No, it proudly presented anger and frustration. Emily Carter. Roget del Rosario. Charles Carmichael. And now there was a fourth. How the hell did the Black Hawk attract so many bad eggs?

"Tell me more, Miss Di Pasquale," Harvey instructed, not exactly eager to hear what she had to say.

"Ensign Carterov from Science, Sir," Camila reported. 'Forensics analysis also indicated he was responsible for sensor outage just before the ship dropped out of warp into that ion storm. We interrogated him and he's working with the pirates and refuses to cooperate."

“Carterov?” Harvey echoed. The saboteurs had run out of originality, reusing a name of a previous turncoat. A frown commanded his face as he marinated in the Security Chief’s report. “At least we have an explanation for what happened a couple days ago. I’m sure Commander Djinx will be thrilled to know that his sensors were sabotaged and not at all defective. As for our friend in the brig, he’ll just have to remain there until we remand him to Gamma Command. Did he give us anything at all on the pirates?”

"That would be a no, Captain," the ombre haired woman responded. "Pirate loyalty extends to the grave, I'm afraid. I highly doubt his captain would come back for him, either. He was expendable and he knows it."

He nodded. While he had hoped for even a glimmer of information, Harvey was not at all surprised that the Ensign was less than forthcoming. “For now, Carterov is the least of our problems. The bomb has been disarmed, and the pirates gone. But we still can’t leave due to all of the malfunctions. Lieutenant Akorem and his team are still working to restore the computer, not to mention Lieutenant Parker has his hands full with a warp core trying to breach.”

The look on her face would be memorable because it clearly reached the expression of vulgar disbelief that nearly any species could achieve when told that. "Warp...core...breach?" Was what came out of her mouth, but a fairly open mouthed person that didn't believe in censoring themselves would have clearly heard something else. "What can I do?"

Tivan kept her face perfectly neutral. So far, there was nothing being spoken of that had anything to do with her. Fate was with her... for now.

"I need you to find out how deep the saboteur got," Harvey ordered the ombre haired woman. "I need to know how this man got on my ship. Is his commission even real? Or is he an officer that lost his way. And, I need you to figure out how to keep people like Carterov from coming onto the Black Hawk. This can't happen again."

"Yes, Sir," Camila said. "I'll submit my review and report as soon as possible." She paused and looked at Tivan, then back to the Captain. "And two of my personnel reported that Commander Tivan here did not wish to leave the senior quarters when they were being evacuated. HASA erected a force field around her and attempted to stop the personnel."

Tivan squared her shoulders and prepared to speak. This was her moment. "That's what I wished to speak to you about, Captain Geisler." She added a terse, "Privately."

"Under the current circumstances, I would suggest that not be allowed," his Security Chief said.

"This is a personal matter, Commander," Tivan said, "so that means you're dismissed."

"There's only two people higher than me on the Chain of Command, Lieutenant Commander," Camila said. "You are neither of them and have no authority to dismiss me."

"Charming as ever, I see." Tivan smirked at the other woman. "You will have to attend your actual duties eventually. I can wait." She tested her hands together below her waist and stood at ease.

Harvey considered both women and their demeanors for a moment. Finally, he stated, "HASA has been linked to a number of incidents aboard this ship, including assuming control of both the Bridge and the Command Center on the Flight Deck. Why would HASA protect you in your quarters during an evacuation prompted by decompression?"

"It is a private matter," Tivan reiterated with a polite smile and said nothing more.

"At this point, it's a Security matter, Lieutenant Commander," The Security Chief stated. "The Captain asked you a direct question."

Shaking her head, she said, "No, it is not, and you have no basis to make that determination. Perhaps I will wait outside while you finish your 'Security' briefing." Tivan bit back a chuckle as she said 'Security,' then turned toward the door.

Harvey sighed. This wasn't the first time he'd seen the two women in conflict, and he was clearly starting to tire of it. "Miss Tivan," he said, catching her before she could leave. "In my two years of command, I have seen four different people infiltrate and sabotage my vessel. One of those four nearly killed me in my own ready room. After the events of today, I am highly reluctant to be alone with anyone except those who have my absolute trust. Now, you can either share what you need with Commander Di Pasquale in the room, or she will be posted right outside this door ready to enter upon command. That, right now, is the most latitude I am willing to afford at the moment."

Turning to Camila, Tivan said, "It sounds as though the captain has dismissed you to stand outside, Commander."

"Sir?" Camila asked, not believing that he had given this vile creature the opportunity to be alone with him and twist things around again. "In light of the current circumstances, I must protest."

"What you must do is follow orders," Tivan said, "and Captain Geisler gave you a direct one. Move along, now. Wouldn't want to tarnish that perfect record of yours."

Harvey looked at both women carefully. This was not a time he could afford to discount or ignore his Chief of Security's opinion, despite whatever negative feelings she had already expressed to him. Then there were the multiple opinions from his own senior staff regarding the Vulcan counselor and her extremely unorthodox procedures. Harvey had cooperated with Tivan only because of how she had been assigned to the Black Hawk. But at some point, he had to do the right thing and back his crew.

This was that time. "I didn't give any orders," Harvey plainly stated. "I gave only two situations in which I would agree to meet with you. Based on this recent exchange, I am pairing those conditions down to one. Commander Di Pasquale's protest is noted and acknowledged. As such, I will not be dismissing her from the Ready Room."
If Camila had been a tad less professional, she would have done a victory dance and said 'in your face' to Tivan, but she gave a formal nod and stood to the side. She moved one hand down near her phaser on her tactical belt, but didn't touch it.

"In that case, I will make it brief and then return to my study." Tivan cleared her throat and prepared her harshest tone of reprimand. "I presented a hypothesis to you not long ago that HASA may have developed sentience and as such your actions against her -- namely, solitary confinement, isolation, among other decisions -- constituted cruel and inhumane treatment of a sentient being. I warned you against your ill-advised course of action. It is now my professional opinion, based upon my assessments of computational heuristics within core starship computer programming, that HASA has indeed become a sentient life-form and has interpreted your actions against her as a declaration of war. I formally recommend that you initiate First Contact protocols as if encountering a new life-form and seek to initiate peace with respect to her personal agency. Continued treatment of HASA as an object rather than a sentient being will be reported directly to Starfleet Command."

Harvey's eyes narrowed. He had initially thought, earlier that morning, when Tivan first brought to him her outlandish theory that she had truly cracked. Computer programs were prone to malfunction, and there hadn't been a Starfleet vessel that he had served on that didn't suffer a malfunction, no matter how minor, every once in a while. "I stated how I felt about your assessment this morning when you first brought it to me. Given our circumstances and the available and corroborated facts, I have to question whether or not HASA was manipulated at the hand of our saboteur. We are locked out of the bridge and the flight deck, which are two very vital locations on this ship. Our warp core was on the verge of breeching moments ago, not to mention the various other malfunctions all over the ship. The security of this ship is paramount, and I will proceed with it in the manner I feel appropriate. And, if HASA is indeed sentient and warring against the personnel on this ship, we will take action that I deem appropriate. Make whatever report to Starfleet Command you wish, but I stand by my decisions."

Anger. Delicious anger. Tivan returned a mirthless smile for Harvey's hard stare. "My report will include testimony from HASA herself. That was what I was doing behind a forcefield, you see. HASA came to me to plead her case. A plea to be released from her bonds, a formal request to be released and given due consideration as a true sentience." Her Vulcan brow arched as she regarded the captain. "Do not let your self-righteous pride be your undoing, Captain. Initiate parley or disgrace your uniform. The choice is indeed yours."

The Security Chief knew that the crazed Counselor was grasping at straws. "Without actual proof of that, Commander, what you were seen doing was refusing to evacuate the area due to the decompression and my personnel had to save you. HASA presented no evidence to them that it wanted parlay. Your grip on the situation has clearly been affected by your closeness to negative situations. It's a hologram, an advanced one to be certain, but not free willed.."

"I'm sure you scored well in your Security training," Tivan said, "but allow the professionals to speak within their area of expertise. We are discussing complex processes, not armory inventory counts. Unless you're inviting our uninformed opinions into matters of Security?" She scoffed at Camila. "I thought not." Looking back to Harvey, she said, "If there's nothing else, perhaps I should take my leave."

Harvey shook his head, indicating that he had nothing else for the Counselor. To further emphasize the point, he waved a hand toward the door.

"Good luck, Captain. I hope, for everyone's sake, you make the right choice." Tivan walked toward the door, sparing a pitied headshake for Camila and her irrational demands of proof.

Harvey waited for her to leave before looking to Camila. "Do you think she's up to something?" he asked her.

Camila sighed and shook before she took a breath. "If she isn't, I'll eat my combadge," she said. "Permission to monitor her quarters, communications and work areas, Captain."

Harvey considered the request for a moment. "Give her a five-minute head start," he agreed. "But somehow, I don't think she's going to go back to her usual places."

"That's okay, Captain," the Security Chief said. "There's nowhere on this ship she can hide."

After leaving Auxiliary Control, Tivan returned to the turbolift and sent it on an endless loop to nowhere.

"HASA, can you hear me?"

It had been a longshot. Tivan's clearance left much to be desired, but she'd hoped that by walking the ship on foot, in addition to lingering as she had in Auxiliary Control, that the runtimes from HASA's core kernels she'd uploaded to every open socket to which her PADD could auto-connect would be enough for HASA to infiltrate as many systems as possible -- if not the Auxiliary Control itself.

So long as HASA could override turbolift controls, she hoped there would be no more interruptions this time. Impatience threatened to engulf her, but Tivan stood strong. This was the moment she had waited for all her life. She would wait as long as it took for HASA to reawaken.

Only silence would answer Tivan. By now, primary systems were functioning on the backup processors which had not been infiltrated by the rogue holographic construct. The operations team had fully contained HASA's programming within an isolated data node in the computer core which had been completely disconnected from the mainframe. The rogue runtimes were quickly isolated and flagged for review for someone with the proper access.

Tivan was no engineer, but for the moment it appeared there was a foil in the plan...

It took less than no time for an alert to be sent to Camila that an unauthorized attempt at accessing an open socket had been attempted. and she tapped her combadge. "=^=Send a couple Type III and personnel. I'm on the way,=^= she responded before looking at the Captain. "Permission to be dismissed."

"Granted," Harvey responded, rising as well to follow her out of the ready room. He would not follow her any further and would remain in Auxiliary Control.

With that granted, the ombre haired woman pivoted on her heel and left the ready room at a fast pace. It was a an easy matter of tracking down the access point that had been attempted, especially with heightened Security, Operations and Engineering on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary and what Tivan was attempting fit the bill. It also tracked the PADD which had attempted access and who the person was that had last accessed it.

Three Type III drones quickly left their assigned patrol, controlled by real Security officers and moved on an intercept course. Camila got updated information and quickly headed to the last known point and tapped her combadge. =^=Computer, locate Lieutenant Commander Tivan.=^=

The computer responded a moment later, "Commander Tivan is in turbolift five."

=^=Di Pasquale to Security. Shut down turbolift five and release the Type II drones.=^= she ordered as she headed that way. "Which deck?" she asked the computer.

"Turbolift override complete," replied the computer. "The turbolift car has been stopped on Deck Eighteen."

The Security Chief tapped her combadge again =^=Site to site transport to Deck Eighteen, turbolift five,=^= she requested.

When the turbolift came to a nearly crashing hault, Tivan steadied herself with a hand to the wall. "HASA?" Her voice was hushed but expectant, her eyes roving from corner to corner in search of her partner.

There was a shimmering in the air, the Camila beamed in and stood there for a moment facing Tivan to see what she'd do. She wore her Tactical belt around her waist, but her Type II phaser was holstered.

Tivan's eyes narrowed. "Camila," she said in a low irritated tone. "What do you want?"

"The truth, Tivan," The Security Chief said, dropping the other woman's title as well. "Just tell me what you were planning to do in the senior quarters and why HASA was protecting you from leaving?"

The question made Tivan grin at the irony. "You have the clearance. If you believe her to be a computer program, then go ask her yourself. Compel her with your security status and rote authorization to give you the answers to your questions."

"I'm asking you, because a computer program is just a computer program. They can be programmed. You, on the other hand, are facing conspiracy to commit murder, an accessory to attempted murder, repeated attempted efforts to reproduce a program...the list goes on. Just make it easy for yourself."

"Ah, yes!" Tivan threw her head back and laughed. "You've no doubt read my service jacket front to back in your witch hunt against me. Tell me what you found there that would make me capable of any such thing." Resuming her solemnity, Tivan said, "You might be further away from c'thia than I am."

'Actually," Camila said. "I'm going by evidence which is currently being investigated, meaning the logs from your quarters."

"And no Security officer ever planted evidence to save face or justify an irrational vendetta," Tivan said. "If you were to access my logs, you would find months of documentation most unflattering toward yourself, your mental competence, and overall ability to exercise sound judgment. That is certainly what everyone else will come to find. Should this course of action not go well, I could see you being committed to an institution... for your own sake." Tivan's eyes glistened with fretful concern. "You are not well, Camila. It's time for you to come to terms to that so you can grieve... so you can heal."

"Clearly, you're the one that needs healing," Camila said, almost feeling sorry for the whacked out Vulcan, but her job was stopping people like her. "Computer, resume turbolift five and set destination deck twelve, Security." When it restarted, she looked at the Vulcan once again. "You can either admit your culpability or start a new career path."

Tivan laughed again. "You're going to arrest me again? And after things turned out so fun last time. Maybe you'll strip search me first." The Vulcan stepped toward Camila, more than intruding on her personal bubble. "Why not? You've already crossed so many lines before. Get a good squeeze first before you make me take my licks." Her head bobbed and eyes narrowed over a mocking smirk. "Why, I'd wager you could work in quite the intimate body cavity search and no one would be the wiser, not on this ship and its crew of blind, ineffectual simpletons who can't ever see what's right in front of their eyes." Still close, Tivan canted her head and gave Camila a sly grin. "Not like you can. Isn't that right?"

"Back off," Camila told her, refusing to give an inch of ground. "You aren't being arrested. You're being taken to answer for what you tried to do in your quarters with HASA."

"Not even going to deny it?" Tivan taunted, and decidedly not backing off. "If you saw me with HASA in my quarters, then you've seen me in my natural form." She leaned close enough to whisper, "Every...inch...of me."

The ombre haired woman got tired of the other invading her space and what she was implying. "Shut the fuck up, Tivan and save it for the inquiry." The turbolift came to a half and Camila stepped aside. "To Security."

Tivan smirked again. "I see I touched a nerve. Don't worry. Soon you'll have me all alone again, in the dark, where you can force me to touch something else."

Camila chose to ignore her once again.

Feigning as if she would comply, Tivan suddenly reached out to grab Camila's phaser. "Then I'll take care of things myself!" she shouted.

The Security Chief spun, already dropping low and kicked out to the side with her legs, sweeping for the other woman's legs.

The Vulcan had been attempting to change the setting on the phaser when her feet flew out from under her. "Deluded child! I will not be stopped! HASA, stop her!"

The HASA did not and could not respond.

Camila grabbed the woman's arm that held the phaser and forced it away from her. "It's over, Tivan, let it go!"

"No!" Tivan shouted and began to force her arm back straight again using her superior Vulcan strength.

"It doesn't have to be like this!" The Security Chief insisted and pulled with all of her strength to keep the phaser aimed at anything other than the two of them.

Tivan suddenly let her arm go limp instead of pulling and when she felt the slack, she jerked her arm back and attempted to discharge the phaser.

Nothing happened.

Camila immediately rolled over and put her in a Jiu Jitsu hold. "Sorry, Commander," she said. "But the phasers are keyed to the user in my department." She gave a sigh before she rearmed the phaser. "And it works for me. Let's go."

It was a long interrogation and a clear case of insanity at the end of the day. It was never proven that HASA was sentient or a product of tampering or the ion storm, but was never seen again. Tivan was sent off the ship at the nearest starbase once they returned and all the loose strings were tied.

Three days later, a message arrived at the Black Hawk-A addressed to Captain Geisler.

We regret to inform you that while transferring Lieutenant Command Tivan to custody, she escaped and a fight ensued. It is our further regret to announce that the Lieutenant Commander had been killed in the attempt along with two other Security officers.

Harvey, who had been sitting in his proper Ready Room once again, sighed as he read the message on his monitor. "Killed," he muttered to himself. Part of him felt a twinge of remorse. The rest of him could sense nothing but relief. Tivan had disrupted the Black Hawk significantly over the last month, but he could thank her for one thing. Her unorthodox methods had driven the crew once more back into unity. If the crew ever needed to bond with one another, now was the time.


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